The 2015 growing season is just around the corner. What were your biggest yield limitations in 2014—and are you doing anything different this year to keep those factors at bay? By beginning with the end in mind, your decisions can make the most of the 2015 growing season and prevent the obstacles you encountered in the field last year.

Last fall we asked growers throughout Illinois to share the biggest yield limitations they encountered in 2014. Pay attention to these top yield robbers this season to up your management game:

  1. Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) – Growers around Illinois reported excess moisture and cool soil temperatures in the spring, leading to greater SDS pressure than they encountered in 2013. SDS favors cool, wet soils during planting, which is when infection occurs. However, symptoms don’t become apparent until the plants reach reproductive stages, generally when temperatures begin to rise. Keep your SDS threat to a minimum by choosing varieties with resistance to SDS and by planting infested acres later in the spring. Bayer CropScience also has a new seed treatment, ILeVO®, that claims to help manage SDS.
  2. White Mold – White mold outbreaks are common with the weather that growers experienced in 2014. Cool, moist conditions favor the fungus, and dense canopies that maintain humidity can increase white mold incidence even further. To fight white mold in 2015, keep in mind that the fungus remains in the soil for several years. Look for varieties with white mold tolerance and use lower seeding rates and wider row widths to reduce humidity.
  3. Marestail – Growers also experienced midsummer problems with marestail, a common problem weed. Marestail flowers in July and sets thousands of seeds in August, making for a damaging weed under the right growing conditions. Growers in northern Illinois who have run into marestail in the past should stay on the lookout—most marestail in the north breaks dormancy in the spring and can become an issue early on.

This month’s weather will determine planting dates and could set the tone for the growing season. But by looking back at the previous season, you can identify top strategies to avoid your biggest obstacles and continue to grow on your progress from 2014.

Were these the diseases and weeds that delivered the biggest hits to your soybean yields in 2014? Or did you experience others? Share your comments and management questions below.

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